RENO, Nev. (MyNews4.com & KRNV) — A possible arrest has been made for the start of the King Fire in El Dorado County, California. According to El Dorado County officials, 37-year-old Wayne Allen Huntsman was booked into Placerville Jail for Arson on Federal Land. He is being held at $10,000,000 bail.
El Dorado County District Attorney Vern Pierson said Huntsman was taken into custody late Wednesday in Placerville. He said law enforcement officials had been in contact with Huntsman before his arrest, but he would not comment further.
The criminal complaint filed against Huntsman states that he has been charged with felony arson with aggravating factors. He is set to be arraigned at 1 p.m. Friday.
“We expect that that investigation will be ongoing in the near future,” Pierson said. He said they have no information that another individual was involved in starting the fire.
“On or about the 13th day of September… (Huntsman) did willfully and maliciously set fire to and burn, and cause to be burned, forest land located in and around Pollock Pines,” the complaint reads.
Pierson said he would not provide comment on Huntsman beyond the information included in the complaint.
Pierson, Cal Fire officials and others discussed the investigation into the fire at a press conference Thursday.
Huntsman has refused an interview request from News10. Officials said the investigation and firefighting efforts have involved multiple public service agencies.
“Within minutes of the initial call of this fire we had investigators on scene,” Cal Fire Unit Chief Mike Kaslan said.
Laurence Crabtree, a U.S. Forest Service supervisor for the Eldorado National Forest, called the King Fire “a growing and dangerous fire.” The fire covers more than 71,000 acres; it threatens more than 12,000 residences and more than 3,000 people have been evacuated, officials said. No structures have been destroyed by the fire, Kaslan said.
Crabtree said the firefighting effort costs more than $5 million a day.
“We are seeing some fire behavior in September that we have not seen before, that we have not seen in a long time,” Kaslan said.
News10’s George Warren first reported the news on Twitter that Huntsman was charged with deliberately setting the King Fire and that he was held on $10 million bail.